Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang: Free Practice roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3

 In MotoGP, News



In the hot and humid conditions (Track temp. 47˚C) at the Sepang International Circuit it was Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo who ended the day on top to send out a message to his title rival Valentino Rossi. All of the talk before the riders took to the track was about Rossi’s comments revolving around Marc Marquez from the Press Conference, but it was Rossi’s Movistar Yamaha teammate Lorenzo that stole the show amongst the haze at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix.

Lorenzo had played second fiddle to Dani Pedrosa in the morning’s FP1 session, but after spending most of FP2 working on race pace, the Spaniard stuck in some fresh rubber to set a 2’00.246. This time was less than half a second off Marc Marquez’s 2014 Pole Record (1’59.791) as the riders hit the ground running at Sepang due to the fact all of the teams get to test at the circuit during preseason. Lorenzo’s time was 0.669s faster than his title rival Rossi as he struck an important psychological blow in the epic 2015 MotoGP™ World Championship title fight.

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa had been quickest out of the blocks in FP1 but found himself 0.047s off the pace of Lorenzo at the end of the day in second overall. The Spaniard will be keen to be involved in the fight for the race win after having missed out on all the fun of the podium battle at Phillip Island.

His teammate Marc Marquez (+0.226s) responded to Rossi’s criticism on Friday by ending the day third fastest overall. The reigning MotoGP™ champion took his 50th GP victory Phillip Island last time out and won last year’s race at Sepang from pole.

Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone (+0.240s) followed up his podium at Phillip Island by ending the day fourth fastest despite crashing at turn 8 in FP2. Following his crash the Italian immediately went out and set his quickest time of the day, just 0.014s further back from Marquez at the circuit where his GP15 made its debut during the preseason test.

Rossi found himself down in fifth overall after an issue with his first choice bike at the end of FP2 prevented him from setting a flying lap on fresh rubber. Rossi, who has won six times in the premier class at Sepang, failed to improve on his time from the morning session but has shown before that he can recover from a poor Friday to be competitive come the race. The ‘Doctor’ currently leads Lorenzo by 11 points in the standings and has his first chance to lift that elusive tenth title if results go his way on Sunday.

LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (+0.793s) carried on his run of good form that has seen him record three top ten finishes in a row to end the day in sixth as the leading Satellite rider. Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro had expected his GSX-RR to struggle at Sepang due to the two long straights and its lack of acceleration, but he finished the day in seventh overall.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) recovered from his worst finish of the season at the Australian GP to finish in 8th, with Scott Redding (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) completing the top ten.

Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera was the leading Open class rider in 11th, while the man who finished in sixth at the Australian GP, Maverick Viñales, was over 1.5s off the pace in 12th. British rider Bradley Smith on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 struggled on the opening day and finished down in 14th.

Irishman Eugene Laverty was 16th, 0.001s ahead of his American teammate Nicky Hayden in 17th, while Australian Jack Miller (LCR Honda) ended the session in 20th.



Derendinger Racing Interwetten’s Luthi took advantage of the hotter conditions in the afternoon session (45˚C) to set a 2’07.453 at a hazy and humid Sepang International Circuit. Luthi improved by over eight-tenths of a second from FP1 to finish the day less than half a second off Pol Espargaro’s 2012 Pole Record (2’06.962). The Swiss rider is hoping to return to the podium at the Malaysian GP for the first time since his win at Le Mans.

AGR Team’s Jonas Folger (+0.267s) finished second overall as he looks to bounce back from the flat tyre that ended his race at the Australian GP. The German had earlier topped FP1 and one was of the few riders not to improve in the afternoon.

The new Moto2™ World Champion Johann Zarco (+0.285s) was in third as he aims to make it 8 wins for the season at Sepang. Speed Up Racing’s Sam Lowes improved from 12th in FP1 to end the day fourth fastest, just 0.417s off the pace of Luthi. The Brit managing to improve by almost a second throughout the day and was one of only five riders to break the 2’08 barrier.

Australian GP race winner and Moto2™ rookie of the year Alex Rins (+0.495s), on the Paginas Amarillas HP40 Kalex, was fifth overall ahead of Idemitsu Honda Team Asia’s Takaaki Nakagami (+0.736s) in sixth.

Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP), Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Mika Kallio (QMMF Racing Team) and Axel Pons (AGR Team) completed the top ten.

EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Tito Rabat is missing the Malaysian GP to allow him to focus on recovering from the broken radius in his left arm.



Leopard Racing’s Kent set a 2’13.715 in the slightly cooler conditions of Friday’s FP1 session to finish on top of the combined timesheets. In hot and humid conditions at the Sepang International Circuit only a second separated the top 13 riders, although Kent’s time was still over a second off Jack Miller’s 2014 Pole Record (2’12.450).

Kent, having crashed out of two of the last three races, once more has a chance to lift the Moto3™ World Championship if results go his way on Sunday. The Brit found himself in fifth in FP2 after a crash at turn 9, but his time set in the morning was good enough to beat the only man who can deny him the Moto3™ title, Miguel Oliveira, by 0.176s.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Oliveira has won two of the last three races but trails Kent by 40 points in the standings with just two races remaining. The Portuguese rider set his best time in the afternoon to top the slightly slower FP2 session.

Sky Racing Team VR46’s Romano Fenati (+0.367s) completed the provisional front row ahead of Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Jorge Navarro (+0.400s) and Kent’s teammate Efren Vazquez (0.469s).

Oliveira’s teammate Brad Binder was sixth fastest overall, with Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold), Hiroki Ono (Leopard Racing), Isaac Viñales (RBA Racing Team) and Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC) completing the top ten.

Ono had a nasty looking highside late on in FP2 at turn 9 but was unhurt, while Alessandro Tonucci also crashed out a few moments later and was declared unfit after being assessed at the Medical Centre. The Italian will now miss the rest of the weekend, while Gresini Racing Team Moto3’s Andrea Locatelli sat out FP2 due to pain from his injured coccyx and finished the day in 33rd overall.



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